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Lamb Tagine

A rich, aromatic meal that’s easy to make and delicious year-round.

July 12, 2017

Rich, aromatic lamb tagine is a hearty year-round meal that’s easy to make. Serve to rave reviews when summer weather turns cool and rainy, or on a sunny evening when dinner is outdoors on the patio.

This tagine served a crowd at a beach cottage vacation, when the weather was cool and foggy and we found lamb on sale at a local market. Braising, then cooking in liquid creates tender meat in a thick, delicious stew that’s bursting with complex flavors. Steam your rice or couscous with saffron or turmeric for extra color and flavor, and serve to rave reviews.

Serves six to eight people.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds lamb shoulder or stew meat, cut in one-inch cubes
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large red or yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons Ras-el-Hanout spice blend (recipe follows)
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with juices
  • 1-and-3/4 cups (or more if needed) low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1-and-1/2 cup halved dried unsulfured apricots
  • Two 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • Cooked couscous, rice or quinoa for serving
  • Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Preparation

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or a heavy pot with a lid over medium-high heat. Season lamb with salt and pepper. Working in batches, brown lamb on all sides, about 4 minutes per batch. Transfer lamb to a large bowl.

Add onion to pot, reduce heat to medium, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until soft and beginning to turn translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in chopped garlic, Ras-el-Hanout, and ginger, and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant. Add tomatoes and lamb with any accumulated juices. Bring to a boil, then add chicken stock. Return to a boil, reduce heat to low, partially cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until lamb is tender, about 1 hour 30 minutes. Add in apricots during the last 30 minutes of cooking. Stir in chickpeas and simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes. Taste sauce and season with salt and pepper if needed.

Spoon couscous onto a large platter, leaving a large well in the center. Spoon tagine into center and sprinkle with cilantro.

Ras-el-Hanout

If you can’t find this Moroccan spice mix at the grocer’s, it’s easy to make your own with spices found in the bulk section.

Makes 2 tablespoons.

Ingredients

  • 1-and-1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1-and-1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

Preparation

Use a spice mill or mortar and pestle to grind the coriander and cumin seeds, and crush the red pepper flakes. Your dish will turn out beautifully if you use pre-ground spices.

Cook’s note: Regular dried apricots work in this recipe and add some color, but the unsulfured are more substantial and will hold up better in the stew. We used a Dutch oven — no special tagine pan needed!

 


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